Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs)–infections patients can get while receiving medical treatment in a healthcare facility–are a major, yet often preventable, threat to patient safety. Together with health care and public health partners, CDC is working to bring increased attention to HAIs and prevention.
HAIs at a Glance
Although significant progress has made in preventing some infection types, there is much more work to be done. On any given day, about one in 25 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection.
CDC’s annual National and State Healthcare-Associated Infections Progress Report (HAI Progress Report) describes national and state progress in preventing HAIs. Among national acute care hospitals, the most recent report (2014 data, published 2016) found:
- 50 percent decrease in central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) between 2008 and 2014
- No change in overall catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) between 2009 and 2014
- However, there was progress in non-ICU settings between 2009 and 2014, progress in all settings between 2013 and 2014, and even more progress in all settings towards the end of 2014
- 17 percent decrease in surgical site infections (SSI) related to the 10 select procedures tracked in previous reports
- 17 percent decrease in abdominal hysterectomy SSI between 2008 and 2014
- 2 percent decrease in colon surgery SSI between 2008 and 2014
- 8 percent decrease in hospital-onset Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) infections between 2011 and 2014
- 13 percent decrease in hospital-onset methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteremia (bloodstream infections) between 2011 and 2014
The report also includes a national snapshot of HAIs in long-term acute care hospitals (LTACHs) and inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs).
- LTACHs: 9 percent decrease in CLABSI and an 11 percent decrease in CAUTI between 2013 and 2014
- IRFs: 14 percent decrease in CAUTI between 2013 and 2014
In 2014, results of a project known as the HAI Prevalence Survey were published. The Survey described the burden of HAIs in U.S. hospitals, and reported that, in 2011, there were an estimated 722,000 HAIs in U.S. acute care hospitals (see chart below). Additionally, about 75,000 patients with HAIs died during their hospitalizations. More than half of all HAIs occurred outside of the intensive care unit.
|HAI Estimates Occurring in US Acute Care Hospitals, 2011|
|Major Site of Infection||Estimated No.|
|Urinary Tract Infections||93,300|
|Primary Bloodstream Infections||71,900|
|Surgical site infections from any inpatient surgery||157,500|
|Other types of infections||118,500|
|Estimated total number of infections in hospitals||721,800|
Steps can be taken to control and prevent HAIs in a variety of settings. Research shows that when healthcare facilities, care teams, and individual doctors and nurses, are aware of infection problems and take specific steps to prevent them, rates of some targeted HAIs (e.g., CLABSI) can decrease by more than70 percent. Preventing HAIs is possible, but it will take a conscious effort of everyone–clinicians, healthcare facilities and systems, public health, quality improvement groups, and the federal government–working together toward improving care, protecting patients, and saving lives.
HAI Data Sources
HAI data are used to identify problem areas, measure progress of prevention efforts, and ultimately eliminate HAIs. CDC receives data on HAIs through two distinct surveillance programs.
Previous HAI Estimates
Estimating Healthcare-associated Infections and Deaths in U.S. Hospitals, 2002. Public Health Reports[PDF - 367 KB]